Jacob Blake was shot at Kenosha, Wisconsin, by police in the back was left paralyzed and “fighting for his life,” his family and lawyers said on Tuesday, as authorities braced for the third night of civil unrest in the lakefront area.
The shooting took place three months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests nationwide against police brutality and racism amidst deadly coronavirus.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared a state of emergency, saying he would send additional National Guard troops to restore order in the region, as the shot man’s mother, Jacob Blake Jr, called publicly for calm.
Blake, 29, a father of six, was struck at a point-blank range from behind in a hail of bullets fired by police who followed him with guns drawn as he walked away from officers into his car and opened a door to the vehicle.
According to civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents the Blake family, three of his young sons inside the vehicle-aged 3, 5 and 8-witnessed their father being gunned down.
A bystander captured the video footage encounter that immediately went viral, unleashing outrage over the latest in a long series of cases where police were accused of using indiscriminate lethal force against African Americans.
Blake, who had tried to break a quarrel between two women, was hit by four of seven bullets fired at him, all of them by one man, and there was “no sign that he was armed,” Crump said in an interview with ABC News on Tuesday.
Blake’s parents expressed anguish over the shooting at a news conference later in the day while decrying two nights of looting, vandalism, and arson that overshadowed peaceful street protests.
“They shot my son seven times. Seven times! Like he didn’t matter,” Jacob Blake Sr., his voice crumbling with emotion, told reporters. “My son matters. He’s a human being and he matters.”
Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson, said her son, “was fighting for his life,” but called for unity, saying she was praying for police officers. She also said she was disappointed by the damage to the city, a town of about 100,000 inhabitants on Lake Michigan about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Jacob Blake’s mother says “my son matters”
“It doesn’t reflect my son or my family,” she said. “If Jacob knew that was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased.
Crump and another family lawyer, Patrick Salvi II, said some of Blake’s vertebrae were broken by bullets, leaving him paralyzed from the waist – probably permanently. His stomach and gastrointestinal tract also endured bullet wounds, forcing surgeons to remove much of his colon and small intestine, and sustained damage to his kidney, liver, and one of his wings, they stated.
“It’s going to take a miracle for Jacob Blake Jr to ever walk again,” Crump said, adding that the family intended to bring a lawsuit “to hold wrongdoers accountable.”
He said Blake’s three sons would likely suffer “psychological problems for the rest of their lives.”
Video captured by a neighbor shows Blake walking towards his SUV’s driver’s side door, away from two officers who pointed guns at his back. Seven shots rang out after he opened the door and leaned into the car, with one of the officers tugging at his shirt.
The shooting is being investigated by the Department of Justice in Wisconsin, which has not released any details. Police in Kenosha referred all questions to prosecutors in the state.
Unrest again flared up elsewhere in the United States on Monday night with overnight clashes reported in Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Madison, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis. Marchers swarmed the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, video on social media showed.